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Saturday, May 5, 2007

SUDAN REFUSES TO SEND ACCUSED TO WORLD COURT

"Outside the kingdom of the Lord there is no nation which is greater than any other. God and history will remember your judgement." -Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie in a speech to the League of Nations, 1936.

NEWSLINE: Risking further sanctions from the UN, Sudan refuses to hand over two of its nationals accused of war crimes in Darfur, to the World Criminal Court at the Hague.

IN A NUTSHELL: Sudan continnues a resistance to moral intervention by western powers that goes back to British colonial attempts to eradicate the Sudanese slave trade.

THEN AND NOW: Between 1880 and1882, attempts by the Egyptians to re-impose British reforms and administration were blocked by the rise of the "Mahdi", the charismatic Sudanese leader, Mohammed Ahmad. In 2007 Sudanese president Bashir rejects the World Criminal Court's warrants for the arrests of two Sudanese accused of war crimes.

PROXIMATE BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS. The Janjaweed miltia is accused of supporting a movement of northern, Arab herders to occupy the lands of black African farmers in Darfur in a quest for water and pasture brought on by drought and climate change.

2005- 2006- Over 200,000 have died in Darfur as a result of fighting amid faltering peace talks and the helplessness of the UN as the international community looks on. Most of the dead are refugees.

Western powers have been demanding that Sudan accept a strong UN peacekeeping force to end the conflict between the Sudan-supported Arab militia, the Janjaweed and Darfur rebel groups.

2006- spring. As thousands of displaced Darfur farming people continue to die -peace
talks fail over power-sharing between Sudan and the two rebel groups.

-November- the fighting in Darfur threatens to spill westward, over into Chad which is fighting its own insurgency in the same border region. Both Darfur and Sudan accuse one another of helping the other's insugencies, in the Darfur border region, where western Sudan meets eastern Chad.

-December 24- Sudan, once again, has given hints that it might relent in the Darfur crisis- followed by the usual cavils and backtracking. It made pisitive noises about allowing a real UN peacekeeping force into the region then told Kofi Annan that it meant only UN technical personnel and that those would be under the command of the African Union peacekeeping force. Moeover, the number of UN peacekeepers would have to be negotiated. Meanwhile, the Janjaweed, it appears, have gone ahead and killed seven people in a village in north Darfur. Presumably, Sudan is playing for time until it can see the crisis resolved by force. Indeed, this may be just the lastest move in Khartoum's history of westward exansionism and a centuries old east-west struggle between Arab and black Africans.

The UN Security Council is prevented from acting unilaterally to protect the people of Darfur, because one of its members, China, is developing Sudan's oil and gas resources and remains a close supporter of Khartoum. Behind Khartoum's support of the Janjaweed there also seems to be a hint of radical Islam and pan-Arabism. Internationally brokered ceasefires between the Janjaweed and the darfur groups have been repeatedly broken. Meanwhile, Sudan has continually bargained, apparently inbad faith, over the entry of UN peqacekeepers. It has accepted the limited presence of underequipped, relatively powerless African Union Peacekeepers while Sudanese president Bashir's repeated gestures of conciliation appear to be nothing but a play for time. This spring, regional attempts at peacemaking, led by Libya and involving Egypt, Chad and the Central African Republic, have led to nothing.

On May 2 the Hague issued warrants for the arrest of Sudan's Minister of State for Humanitarian Affairs, Ahmed Haroun, and Janjaweed Milita leader Ali Kosheib for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Khartoum has based its refusal to comply on the fact that it was never a signatory to the formation of the World Criminal Court. In addition, it claims that Sudan itself has been competent to try the accused. In fact, Haroun has been acquitted in a Sudanese court and the trial of Kosheib has been postponed indefinitely. In the end, Sudan is claiming that the World Criminal Court is nothing but a weapon of Western powers against Sudanese sovereignty.

DISTANT BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS. Arab herding peoples in the Sudan, whether by trading black African slaves in 19th century Darfur, or by violently displacing black African farming people in 21st century Darfur, have managed, with some success, to defy western values and embarrass those who would intervene

Likewise, the West or 'the world community', as watchdog over abuses in Sudan, had a predecessor in British colonial rule. In 1877, General Gordon was made governor of the Sudan and Darfur and in the following year he broke up slave-hunting operations in Darfur. By the time Gordon had left the Sudan, slaving had begun to return.

Attempts by the Egyptians in 1880-1882 to re-impose British reforms and administration were blocked by the rise of the charismatic Sudanese leader, Mohammed Ahmad (1848-1885). Ahmad identified himself with the Islamic saviour of Shia Islam and so was known as “The Mahdi”. The Baggara slave traders appealed to the Mahdi’s Messianic promise and between 1881 an 1884 the Mahdi won a string of victories in Sudan and Darfur against Egyptian and British forces. Gordon returned to the Sudan, arriving at Khartoum to surrender the Sudan to the Mahdi, evacuate Egyptian soldiers and civilians and draw the line at Khartoum. Nevertheless, the victorious Mahdists advanced on the city. After administrative bungling by the British, a relief force arrived too late, Khartoum fell to the Mahdi and Gordon was killed.
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REMOTE BACKGROUND TO THE CRISIS. Whether as Nubia, Napata, Kush or Meroe, the Sudan region of the upper Nile has always managed to maintain an identity separate from the regional power of Egypt to th north. Largely sustained by the trade in gold, slaves and ivory, ancient Nubia's remotesness guarantted its relative autonomy. For example, in 300 BC, after Egypt sacked the captial of Napata, the Nubians moved it to Meroe, out of Egyptian reach.

In the third century, to the west, came the rise of Darfur under the Daju kings. From the fourth century to the six century Sudan declined into a number of fragmented Christian kingdoms which nevertheless managed to hold off the advance of Islam after the 7th century. In the 13th century, Sudan began a slow revival as Islam gradually took hold under the Egyptian Mamelukes. At the same time, the Chadian Kanem dynasty ruled Darfur.

By the 17th century, both Sudan and Darfur had converted to Islam and both were ruled by indigenous dynasties, respectively the Funj and the Keira. In the 18th century, Darfur ruled an empire that extended into the Sudan region, east of the Nile.

Sudan fell to Egypt in the early 19th century. The end of Sudan's historical resitance to Egypt was only brief and its traditional autonomy was restored by the Sudanese rebellion of the charismatic Islamic leader, the Mahdi, against British and Egyptian domination.

In the British-Egyptian conflict with Sudan that followed, it was Darfur that lost territory and eventually its idependence- successively to Sudan and to Britain.

CROSS-CENTURY SUMMARY: Darfur, as a well-watered mountainous region between Sudan and Chad; and Sudan as a highland region of the upper Nile have been self-contained entities. After much struggle, each was a regional power in the 18th century. Each has ancient roots and has claims to a civilization. Though Darfur was made part of Sudan during British colonization, Darfur and Sudan are, in effect, historical rivals.

Darfur itself is near the intersection of the two great axes of Africa: the historically prosperous East-West Sahel, below the Sahara and the North-South trade routes from the Egyptian Nile down through the great lakes. The shadow of an ancient kingdom, Darfur also persists at the crux of three, thousand-year-old forces: pressures from the west (Chad) pressure on its farmers from northern herders (the Libyan desert) and the political pressures from Sudan and Egypt to the east. Despite all this, there is still a ‘Fur” people and a Darfur identity. Darfur will never go away.

An ancient kingdom, one of many formed along the prosperous Sahel (from Sierra Leone to Ethiopia) where desert herding meets southern agriculture, Darfur has prospered and struggled. In western Sudan, in a mountainous region surrounded by desert, Darfur has had a distinct people and a distinct history since the first centuries BCE.. That’s when the Daju people expanded from the central Jebel Marrah mountains to control the region. From early times they were known as the Fur people. “Dar Fur” means “home of the Fur”. In a very real sense, they still “own” that fertile mountainous area.

The Kanem people from the Chad area, in the west, took Darfur around 1250 and converted it to Islam. They only ruled the area for about 300 years before Darfur was resurgent with its own Keria Dynasty. The rule of the Muslim Keira sultans , lasting almost from 1600 to 1875, represents the apogee of Darfur.

Historically, it was the perennial pressure of herding and trade from the north that brought Islam to the region. The people embroiled in the present conflict are mostly black, and the religion of both sides, farmers and herders, is Islam.

To the east, the rise of the Mahdi in the 19th century, stamped Sudan once and for all with a frequently radical, Islamic, Arab identity. Darfur, though Islamic, has remained culturally African. Sudan's tendency, as a result, has been to support the Arab herding peoples to the north in their incursions into Darfur, in search of pasture and water.

PRESENT SITUATION: As the Janjaweed militia continues to support the northern herders, with attacks on Darfur, and as conflict speads between herders who have settled there and inidgenous farmers, thousands are dying. Sudan has been blocking UN peacekeeping initiatives, the African Union is too poorly manned and equipped to be effective and the UN has failed to get a consensus on international, armed intervention. In the meantime, over 200,000, people in the Darfur region have perished at the hands of the Janjaweed and Sudan.

PLUS CA CHANGE: In1916, after Darfur rebelled against the British, the last Keira Sultan of Darfur was killed and Britain made Darfur a part of Sudan

MOST RECENT BACKGROUND. 2003: After years of conflict over land between herders and farmers in Darfur, two Darfur rebel groups, the SLA (Sudanese Liberation Army) and the JEM, step up their insurgency. Their goal for Darfur is autonomy, equality and power-sharing with Sudan. The SLA and the JEM are black African Muslim rebel groups.

2003- February: Alarmed by the SLA and the JEM, the Islamic
government of Sudan unleashes the Janjaweed, an Islamist Muslim militia (also black African) representing the interests of the herding peoples north of Darfur.

2004- after aerial aussaults by Sudan and attacks by the Janjaweed, 50,000 Darfur
farming people flee to refugee camps.

CURIOSITY: In 1881, Darfur had its own British governor, Sir Karl Slatin.

CHRONOLOGICAL HISTORY OF DARFUR; HISTORY OF SUDAN.

3000 BC- Egyptian traders move into the middle Nile region of Nubia (Sudan) in search of gold and slaves.

1200 BC- Egypt conquers Nubia. Nubia developes a technologically civilzed society which includes literacy.

750 BC- Sudan: Nubia is known as the kingdom of Napata, also known as Kush, and becomes a rival to Egypt. The Nubian king, Piankhy conquers Egypt and becomes Pharaoh,

671 BC- the Assyrians conquer Egypt and Nubia. But the kings of Nubia still rule indeppndently.

300 BC- Sudan: Egypt sacks the capital, Napata, and the capital is moved to Meroe.

350 BC- Meroe, which now controls the trade in gold and ivory, receives the influence of Hellenism after Alexander the Great's conquest of Egypt. Women make powerful dynastic rulers. Meroe reaches the height of its civilization.

200- the Daju kings rule Darfur.

350 AD- Sudan: Meroe becomes marginalized as trade routes change and is finally conquered by Christian Axum (Ethiopia). Meroe then declines as it is raided by nomads from the Sahara.

350-1504- Sudan: Nubia (Meroe) fragments into the feudal kingdoms of Dongola and Alwa.

550- Sudan: Dongola and Alwa are Christianized.

-in the medieval period Sudan maintains trade with Egypt. Annual caravans run from Darfur and Sennar to Asyut in upper Egypt.

-750- tribal pressures in the Arabian Peninsula push the Arabian Beni Omayya tribe across the Red Sea into Sennar.

1250- Darfur: the kingdom of Kanem (modern Chad) invades from the west and takes Darfur. Darfur is converted to Islam. More Arabs followed and intermarried with Sudanese blacks.

1280- Sudan: Nubia is under the occupation of the Mameluke Sultans of Egypt.

1400- in Darfur, the Fur re-emerge as an indigenous royal dynasty.

1504- Sudan: Soba, the capital of Christian Nubia is sacked by the Islamic Funj tribe. Thereafter, the area is gradually Islamized.

1504-1821- northen Sudan is ruled by the Funj.

-the Fur sultans of Darfur and and the Funj sultans of Sennar form the two great Muslim powers of the region.

1571-1603- Darfur:the Chadian kingdom of Kanem is at its height under Idriss III.

1596-1603- the reign of Adlan, Funj Sultan of Sudan is famous attracting scholars Caro and Baghdad.

1600- the Fur found their own Keira dynasty.

1700- Darfur: the rule of the Keira extends east of the Nile, forming an empire.

-17 20 (circa)the Funj of Sudan invade and defeat Ethiopia.

-1780 (circa) Sudan: the Hameg overthrow the Funj and Sudan falls into decay.

1800- the rule of Darfur reaches its greatest extent, encroaching into Sudan.

1821- Mohammed Ali of Egypt conquers northen Sudan.

1823- Egypt founds Khartoum as the regional capital of Sudan and trades in ivory and slaves.

1820s- Egypt and Khartoum encroach on Darfur’s eastern possessions.

1863- Egypt's Ismail Pasha tries to extend control to southern Sudan on the pretext of ending Sudan's slave trade.

1874- Darfur falls to Egypt. The Keira dynasty, which had ruled the Fur people from around 1600 (for amost three centuries) is defeated by Egypt.’s Rahma al Zubayr. Darfur’s Sultan Ibrahim is killed and the once independent country is laid waste.

-Under British colonization, Egypt’s native administrators turned a blind eye to abuses such as the slave trade on the Upper Nile.

1877- General Gordon is made governor of the Sudan, Darfur and Somali regions south of Egypt. In 1878, he breaks up slave-hunting operations in Darfur. By the time Gordon haddleft the Sudan, slaving has begun to return. Sudanese cattle-owning slave-traders, resume their operations.

1880-1882- attempts by the Egyptians to re-impose British reforms and administration are blocked by the rise of the charismatic Sudanese leader, Mohammed Ahmad (1848-1885) identifies himself with the Islamic saviour of Shia Islam and so is known as “The Mahdi”. In Sudan, the Baggara slave traders appeal to the Mahdi’s Messianic promise, a Baggara becomes his right-hand man and the Baggara tribes become his followers and his army in a campaign to throw off rule by Egypt and its British sponsors.

1881- With Egypt a protectorate of Great Britain, Darfur is governed by Sir Karl Slatin.

1881-1884 -the Mahdi wins a string of victories in Sudan and Darfur against Egyptian and British forces. Gordon returns to the Sudan, arriving at Khartoum to surrender the Sudan to the Mahdi, evacuate Egyptian soldiers and civilians and draw the line at Khartoum itself. Nevertheless, the victorious Mahdists advance on the city. Due to administrative bungling by the British, a relief force arrives too late, Khartoum falls to the Mahdi and Gordon is killed. Soon, however, the people of Sudan begin to find the Mahdi’s rule even more oppressive than that of the Egyptians.

1883- the ‘Mahdists’ led by Mahdi Mohammed Ahmad, Sultan of Sudan invade and take Darfur. Over the ensuing years, both Sudan and Britian find Darfur impossible to rule.

1885- the mahdi dies of illness. After his death in 1885, his Mahdist successors perpetuate his abuses.

1898- Sudan: Britian, together with Egypt, defeats the Mahdist movement at Omdurman.

1916- After Darfur rebels against the British, the last Keira Sultan of Darfur is killed and Britain makes Darfur a part of Sudan.

1899- British-Egyptian rule of Sudan is etsablished under the auspices of Britain. Sudan continues to resist British rule.

1924- Brtain attempts to isolate southern Sudan by administering it from the north.

1948- Sudan gets its own elected assembly. The Independence Front wins the Sudanese elections.

1955- After the Nasserite revolution in Egypt, Britian prepares for the indepndence of Sudan.

1955- as the Southern Sudan Liberation Front, the tribes of the south, fearing domination by northen rulers of an independent Sudan begin an extended revolt. It will last until 1972.

1956- Sudan gains independence from Britain and Darfur remains part of Sudan.

1956-1972- Sudan is racked by civil war.

1958- Sudan: General Ibrahim Abboud stages a coup, ends democracy and is unable to improve the ecinomy.

-Sudan begins military cooperation with the Soviet Union.

1960-1980- Darfur: severe droughts and famine force herders from dry, northwestern Sudan to encroach on the better watered and more fertile mountain region of Darfur in central western Sudan. Disputes over land between northern herders and Darfur farmers became violent

1964- Sudan: General Abboud brings back civilian rule but is unable to bring about improvements.

1969-Sudan: General Nimeri seizes power.

1970- 2,000 Soviet and East European technical advisors are present in Sudan while Sudanese got training in the Soviet Union.

1971- Nimeri puts down a Communist-led coup. Relations cool with the Soviet Union and Soviet advisers are explelled of a year. But in a year's time, relations resume and throughout the mid-1970s, most of Sudan's military hardware is supplied by the Soviet union.

1972- Sudan: General Nimeri ends the civil war by granting autonomy to southern Sudan.

1977- Nimeri begins to enact Islamic law.

1977- After the Soviet Union begins supplying Sudan's rival, Ethiopia, Sudan expels all Soveit advisers and closes the Soviet embassy.

-Sudan switches to China as its main arms supplier.

-1979-82- worried about Soviet support of Ethiopia, the US begins its own suply of arms to Sudan.

1980s- the Sudanese civil war re-ginites. The northen-based Muslim Brotherhood's National Islamic Front fights the black African Sundanese People's Liberation Army in the south. The latter are animist or Christian.

1983- Khartoum's civil war with the south resumes and the US cuts off military aid.

1983- Sudan: Nimeri institutes strict Islamic law.

-Sudan uses Chinese military trainers and advisers, almost exclusively.

1985- Sudan's general Numeri is overthrown. General Abdul Raman Swaredahab leads military a transitional government.

1986- civilian rule returns under President Sadiq Al Mahdi.

1989- in a bloodless coup, General Omar Hassan al-Bashir seizes power in Sudan, promulgates Islamic rule and bans poltiical parties.

-the Bashir government redirects aid to the north from the famine-stricken south.

1990- refugees from Chad and Ethiopia begin to arrive in Sudan.

1990- the United States halts relief efforts to Sudan and relations with the US deteriorate as Sudan supports Iraq in the Gulf War.

-Sudan: Bashir intensifies Islamic rule.

1996- Sudan: General Bashir reaffirmed as president in elections.

2003: After years of conflict over land between herders and farmers in Darfur, two Darfur rebel groups, the SLA (Sudanese Liberation Army) and the JEM (Justice and Equality Movement), step up their insurgency. Their goal for Darfur is autonomy, equality and power-sharing with Sudan. The SLA and the JEM are black African Muslims groups.

2003- February: Alarmed by the SLA and the JEM, the Islamic
government of Sudan unleashes the Janjaweed, an Islamist Muslim militia (also black African) representing the interests of the herding peoples north of Darfur.

2004- after aerial aussaults by Sudan and attacks by the Janjaweed, 50,000 Darfur
farming people flee to refugee camps.

2005- 2006- Over 200,000 have died in Darfur as a result of fighting amid faltering
peace talks and the helplessness of the UN as the international community looks on. Most of the dead are refugees.

2006- spring. As thousands of displaced Darfur farming people continue to die -peace
talks fail over power-sharing between Sudan and the two rebel groups.

-November- the fighting in Darfur threatens to spill westward, over into Chad which is fighting its own insurgency in the same border region. Both Darfur and Sudan accuse one another of helping the other's insugencies, in the Darfur border region, where western Sudan meets eastern Chad.

-December 24- Sudan, once again, has given hints that it might relent in the Darfur crisis- followed by the usual cavils and backtracking. It made pisitive noises about allowing a real UN peacekeeping force into the region then told Kofi Annan that it meant only UN technical personnel and that those would be under the command of the African Union peacekeeping force. Moeover, the number of UN peacekeepers would have to be negotiated. Meanwhile, the Janjaweed, it appears, have gone ahead and killed seven people in a village in north Darfur. Presumably, Sudan is playing for time until it can see the crisis resolved by force. Indeed, this may be just the lastest move in Khartoum's history of westward exansionism and a centuries old east-west struggle between Arab and black Africans.
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